When we thought of doing a European trip across Germany, through the Italian Alps and over to Lake Como, the first car that sprung to mind was the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo. It is literally built for this kind of grand touring adventure.
So that’s exactly what we booked. The GTS variant, to be specific, because it blends the perfect balance of fun and accessible performance with superb comfort and no-compromise practicality. Power comes from a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that produces a meaty 353kW and 620Nm, sent through an eight-speed dual-clutch auto and all-wheel drive system.
In Australia, prices start from $325,300 (excluding on-roads). Yes, the Taycan Cross Turismo Turbo is quicker and more powerful, and $28,700 less expensive, however, it offers a range of 472km. This Panamera GTS’s theoretical average range is 769km, and for grand touring, you don’t have to stress about predetermining charge stations along your route.
2023 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo GTS – THE SPECS
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Output: 353kW@6500rpm / 620Nm@1800-4000rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive
Wheels: F: 20×9.5, 275/40 R: 20×11.5, 315/35 (21s as tested)
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 2175kg
Power-to-weight: 6.16:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 11.7L/100km
Economy during test: 11.7L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 90L/98 RON
Power efficiency: 30.17kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 1.81 seconds*
0-100km/h: 3.91 seconds*
60-110km/h: 2.69 seconds*
1/4 mile: 11.97 seconds at 193.0km/h*
Max acceleration: 1.207g*
100-0km/h braking: 2.76 seconds at 34.13 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.228g*
Decibel at idle: 52/60*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 92*
Priced from: $325,300
* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different
2023 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo GTS – THE PACKAGE
The GTS looks the part, with its contrasting exterior highlights in black, such as the window surrounds, side mirrors, intakes, and this example also features some cool carbon fibre side vents and front trimmings. At the back you’ve got the racy quad outlet exhaust – a hallmark for elite performance models – in black, with black badges matching the theme.
We’re not a big fan of this Carmine Red paint colour. Not on the Panamera anyway. It looks great on the 911 as it helps the sports coupe pop. But on a suave wagon like this it doesn’t match in our opinion. Imagine in dark blue or even grey with the black highlights. That’d be very cool.
The 2023 Panamera showcases the distinct Porsche design, with the latest full-width taillight treatment at the back, and trademark pouncing front guards and four-point headlights at the front. It looks low, fat and smooth, with just the right amount athleticism and muscle in the detail.
This example wears a set of optional 21-inch mesh-style alloy wheels in gloss black, but there are other options available if you want to further customise the look. They’re wrapped in staggered-width Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres measuring a fat 275/35 on the front, and 315/30 on the back. This example also features the optional carbon ceramic brakes ($18,770, in Australia) – a must for high-speed driving on the autobahn.
Inside, this is all about refinement and sophistication, with a beautiful layer of sportiness coated on top. The Race-Tex, Alcantara-like trim is so soft and soothing to touch, extending to the perfect three-spoke steering wheel, with outstanding build quality in every area.
There are absolutely no rattles or squeaks to be heard, even at speed and on bumpy roads. Porsche is a market leader in this area in our view, and such refinement continues here.
Most of the controls are accessible via the crisp 12.3-inch touch-screen on the dash, but there are plenty of flush buttons on the elegant centre console for the regular functions, such as climate control and drive settings – great for keeping distractions to a minimum.
Passenger space is very good in the front, and these seats, despite looking pretty ordinary in terms of design, offer excellent support in the corners yet they’re soft enough for long-distance touring.
In the back you have two seats but you can option for a 2-plus-1 layout as seen here. The middle seat is quite cramped due to the chunky centre tunnel, but the outer chairs are very similar to the front in terms of shape and comfort. Legroom and headroom levels are good, even for taller individuals.
Of course, being the Sport Turismo wagon means you get loads of boot space. In the standard seating configuration you get 487L, or up to 1356L with the rear seats folded flat. This makes it the perfect companion for long road trips. We managed to fit in three large luggage cases during our trip, with some room leftover for smaller nicknacks.
2023 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo GTS – THE DRIVE
It’s not the most powerful model in the range, but that’s not what the GTS badge has ever been about. Generically, ‘Grand Touring Sport’ represents the ability to tour across country in a sporty manner. With 353kW on tap, that’s exactly what it does.
Peak power isn’t reached until 6500rpm, which is quite high for a modern V8. But again, it suits perfectly with the GTS philosophy; if you want maximum performance you need to let it know. That’s not to say it’s a peaky machine that offers nothing in the bottom end. Quite the contrary, in fact. Peak torque is available just off idle, at 1800rpm, and held until 4000rpm.
The maximum figure of 620Nm, though, is not monstrous. Though, this is certainly enough to pull through every gear with no hesitation, but it’s not so much that it’ll churn up your licence at the mere thought of pressing harder on the throttle. During our trip we had a fantastic time chasing some local motard bike riders up Stelvio Pass in Italy. And it’s here, up steep inclines and escaping from pin-sharp hairpin bends, that the low-end grunt really comes into its own.
You can leave it in second gear when rolling right down almost to a complete stop and the turbos quickly spool up and provide heaps of thrust. Third gear is the ideal all-rounder, offering great low-end acceleration but if you leave it pinned the top-end speed is incredible. Speaking of which, Germany is known for its unrestricted speed zones on its autobahn highways. So…
We were initially really excited about the prospect of hitting the GTS’s claimed top speed of 292km/h. However, despite travelling from Frankfurt, down to Munich and into Italy, and then back and over to the Nurburgring, we didn’t once find a gap in the traffic to explore its upper limits. The highest speed we saw was 286km/h, in 6th gear, only limited by the need to slow down for traffic.
The high-speed stability is truly amazing. Around slight curves at 200km/h-plus, the Panamera remains rock-solid and secure (see our POV video below). There is no nervousness at all, and the steering remains nicely weighted and full of feedback. This is important because at such speeds only fine adjustments in the wrong way could be lethal. But this is clearly built for it. It soars along at such speeds with no stress. It actually feels like it’s happier cruising at 210km/h than 110km/h.
Down on the steering wheel is the drive mode select dial, providing Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual modes. Each alter the steering feel, engine and transmission response, and adjust the three-chamber air suspension system with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM). The GTS is naturally 10mm lower in ride height compared with the regular variants, but you can adjust the ride height at the touch of a button as well. With air suspension it means the ride is magnificent.
The engine sounds so good at any engine speed. Down low, it produces a surprisingly deep, burbling rumble like a large-capacity American V8. Through the mid-range it is still quite a deep and bellowing soundtrack, which is uncharacteristic of a smallish European V8. Up in the top end of the tacho, the grumble turns into a proper roaring growl. As you can imagine, it is a thoroughly entertaining package.
In terms of performance, we ran some acceleration tests with the Vbox and achieved an almost identical 0-100km/h time as what Porsche claims, with 3.91 seconds against 3.9. We also crossed the quarter mile in 11.97 seconds. Just as impressive, the 100-0km/h emergency stop came up in just 34 metres. That’s a stellar effort for a 2175kg vehicle.
2023 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo GTS – THE VIDEOS
2023 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo GTS – THE VERDICT
Well, as we assumed, the Panamera Sport Turismo GTS is the ideal vehicle for cutting across the country in stately style and refinement. The ride quality is a particular standout, along with the perfectly balanced engine, performance and adaptive drive characteristics. We also recorded a fairly modest fuel consumption average of 11.7L/100km after 3000km-plus of driving.
Things to consider? There’s always the cheaper Taycan Cross Turismo Turbo that might be more tempting to some, and we’re not totally sold on the Panamera’s design from some angles, especially in this Carmine Red colour. A lot of the options are also very expensive so it’s best to choose wisely and pick options you really need.
– GTS presents the perfect balance in style, comfort, practicality and enjoyable performance
– Unbelievable stability at 200km/h-plus
– Addictive V8 soundtrack
– Impeccable build quality
– Expensive compared with like-minded rivals, including from Porsche
– Engine performance can feel clinically tuned/restricted to fill ‘GTS’ gap in lineup
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